Every piece within Izaskun Zabala’s jewelry line makes a statement — even if it’s a slightly subtle one. Monstera and sand dollar motifs, rings studded with turquoise or garnet, and ear cuffs with a coral-decorated dangle: her influence from nature is obvious in every design, something perhaps she picked up growing up in Basque Country where she frequented the local artist’s studios as a child.
Zabala furthered her interest in design by studying a variety of creative outlets, from sculpture to photography. But it was jewelry making where she ultimately found her niche, earning an Elsa Peretti Scholarship by Tiffany & Co. at the Fashion Institute of Technology and going on to design for Stella & Dot and nOir. In 2013, she launched her own collection with the goal of offering women pieces that were the perfect marriage of contemporary and timeless aesthetics.
The collection is designed and made in New York, where Zabala has been living for close to two decades. That fact made us curious to learn what she loves most about living and working in Brooklyn, as well as what made her choose jewelry as her preferred medium, and the best advice she’s ever been given.
You have a live/work space in Brooklyn. What's your best tip on separating work and home life?
I live by myself (no partner or pets) with no TV. I am a one-woman-show and love what I do, and since there is always so much to do, I work and create everyday with no time constraints.
That said, what are some of your must-haves when you're trying to get in the creative zone?
Music and a great juice in the morning.
New York has shaped my sensibility and my creative expression in all senses.
How did you settle on jewelry above other outlets for your love of design?
When I was younger, I thought I was going to study Fashion Design. At 20, while doing Fine Arts, I took a semester of jewelry in the evenings and I got hooked right away: sculpture on a small scale (hello attention to detail!) and the use of metals make jewelry an art form that can be passed through generations — two of the main reasons why I followed jewelry.
You grew up and studied in Europe. How has moving to NYC changed your aesthetic, if at all?
I moved to NYC at 23 because I fell in love with an American man. I never thought I would live in America and here I am still 17 years later! New York has shaped my sensibility and my creative expression in all senses. I attend art exhibits, concerts, dance performances, etc. I have also become a woman here. Do I need to say more?
What are the best parts of living in Bed-Stuy?
My home studio in the parlor floor of a brownstone I love so much, the restaurants (excellent farm-to-table choices), the A train, proximity to Prospect Park and Fort Greene, the Food Co-op, the yoga studios and best of all, the friendly neighbors.
Fill in the blanks:
When I want to feel most powerful, I put on _______.
My guiltiest pop culture pleasure is _____.
The greatest advice anyone's ever given me is ______.
“Create the things you wish existed.”